DNC votes down climate-focused debate
A committee within the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Thursday voted down a proposal for a debate focused on climate change.
The DNC’s resolution committee voted against the measure, though a resolution calling for a climate debate could still be considered for a vote by the full committee Saturday as they continue to meet over the weekend.
The committee defeated the resolution in a 17-to-8 vote, according to the Mercury News.
The DNC has faced mounting pressure from environmental groups and some candidates, even as two climate forums hosted by other entities are planned for September.
“We are in a climate emergency. If we’re going to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, we need to know how those vying to become our next president are going to confront the fossil fuel industry and accelerate the transition to renewable energy from day one. Talking points and sound bites don’t cut it anymore,” Greenpeace said in a statement on the vote.
A number of candidates have heeded calls for a climate-focused debate, but one of the loudest of those voices, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, ended his presidential bid late Wednesday night.
Christine Pelosi, a member of the executive committee and the resolution committee, was one of three DNC members to introduce a resolution that called for a standalone climate debate.
Pelosi, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), introduced the resolution Thursday that read: “Therefore, be it resolved that one of the first of several DNC Presidential Debates should be focused on Climate Change issues and solutions.”
“There are a number of us who want to have a standalone debate on the issue of climate. It’s more than an issue. We need a climate crisis response blueprint,” Pelosi previously told The Hill.
The DNC has so far held two presidential primary debates. Each devoted a period of time to asking candidates about climate change, but some have criticized the timing as not enough compared to the threat.
Nevertheless, environmental activists believe one silver lining emerged from Thursday’s voting activity. The committee passed Resolution 4, an amendment that would in part allow for candidates to appear side by side on stage to have a discussion on a single issue, such as climate change.
Supporters of a climate debate believe the language will allow future unsanctioned climate debates to occur and could open the door for networks like CNN and MSNBC to modify their coming climate forums to debates.
Protestors from the youth climate group the Sunrise Movement, who appeared in droves at the hearing in San Francisco Thursday, called the ruling a “partial victory.”
“This partial victory shows the strength of the grassroots movement and the power of young people. In the coming days and months, we’ll keep fighting to make sure the DNC and Tom Perez treat the climate crisis like the emergency that it is, and give it the airtime and attention that it deserves,” said Sunrise Movement spokesperson Sofie Karasek in a statement.
DNC officials however pushed back on the characterization, saying the language did not expressly allow future unsanctioned climate debates. Currently the DNC only allows candidates to appear on stage one at a time at single issue forums. The debate ban warned that candidates who participated in such events would be bared from participating in future DNC debates.
The amendment will not be finalized until Saturday when it come up for a full vote. Supporters of a DNC climate debate expect there will be another push by members to bring up the issue for a full vote Saturday.
Eight candidates will attend a CNN-hosted town hall focused on climate change scheduled for early September, while a similar event will be hosted by MSNBC later in the month.